VOLUNTEER FIELD ASSISTANTS NEEDED (6) – Behavioral ecology of Variegated & Red-backed fairy-wrens
Location: Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Duration: 5 months
Job Type: Volunteer
Number of Openings: 6
Description: Volunteer field assistants are needed from ~ Aug. 10, 2017 – Jan. 9, 2018 (dates somewhat flexible) for a study of the social and breeding behavior of Variegated and Red-backed fairy-wrens in Queensland, Australia. One field variegated field assistant will be needed to start work on ~ Aug. 5, 2017. Research will focus on continuing a long-term monitoring project and conducting behavioral studies conducted by graduate students from Cornell University (additional information at www.nbb.cornell.edu/neurobio/websterlab/index.html, www.josephwelklin.com and below). Research is conducted in collaboration with Dr. William Feeney, a research fellow at the University of Queensland (AUS)/University of California, Berkeley (USA) and his cuckoo research group (for additional information on Dr. Feeney’s work, see http://www.williamefeeney.com).
Variegated fairy-wrens (3 assistants needed): study focuses on understanding social conflict and cooperation and the role of behavioral and plumage traits, particularly in females. Field assistants will assist with continued monitoring of reproductive behavior, social affiliations, and experiments aimed at understanding aggressive and cooperative behavior, and how they relate to an individual’s phenotype.
Red-backed fairy-wrens (3 assistants needed): study focuses on the role that social environment plays in determining whether young males to molt into nuptial breeding plumage and their subsequent reproductive success. Field assistants will assist with continued monitoring of reproductive behavior, social affiliations, and experiments including simulated territorial intrusions and how they relate to male phenotype.
Overall duties for all assistants will include nest searching and monitoring, assisting with target netting, collection of blood samples, behavioral observations, territory mapping, and data entry. Previous experience with nest searching is highly desired. Mist netting, banding, and bleeding experience is also preferred, but not required. The study site is rugged, hot, and venomous snakes and ticks are quite common. Therefore, applicants must be able to hike rough areas off-trail, withstand harsh conditions at the site, and maintain a positive and energetic attitude despite long hours in hot and humid conditions. Work schedules and duties will vary, so flexibility is a must.
Accommodation is shared between two research groups and there will be opportunities to assist with both projects, if desired (the latter being a broad field-based study of brood parasite-host interactions, especially host defenses against brood parasitism). There will also be opportunities to become more involved in the research, if desired.
Assistants will enjoy fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities (Wallabies, platypus, koalas, kookaburra, etc.), proximity to Queensland rainforest and the surrounding area of Brisbane. Food and housing will be provided, however, assistants will need to provide their own airfare to and from Australia. Applications will be accepted until all positions are filled.
Qualifications: Previous experience with nest searching is highly desired. Mist netting, banding, and bleeding experience is also preferred, but not required. Applicants must be self-motivated and be able to maintain a positive attitude despite challenging field conditions. To apply, please send a cover letter detailing interests and previous experience as well as dates of availability, CV, and a list of 3 references to the Cornell Fairy-wren Research Team (EM: cornellfairywrens AT gmail.com). Please feel free to enquire with any questions pertinent to the application process or about the project in general. If you have a preference for one position over the other (Variegated or Red-backed Fairy-wrens) please include that in your application.